It has been a while since I did a workout video other than YogaDownload. In the past month I have picked up a new weight lifting routine which includes heavier weight and lower repetitions compared to my past circuits. Being … Continue reading
On Monday I received Cindy Whitmarsh’s UFIT series from 411 Video Information to blaze through and review. The series consists of three separate videos: The Ultra Lean, The Ultra Tight and The Ultra Burn. Each DVD is 4o minutes long, with two 20 minute interval training workouts. These workouts are based on the principals of HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) and are designed to blast calories and tone in a minimal amount of time. There are three exercises per circuit; 1 minute of cardio and two minutes of strength/toning exercises. Each circuit is performed only once, with no repetition of exercises. If you want the short version of this review, scroll to the bottom and read my “Takeaway”.
Tuesday I started with Ultra Lean. This DVD consisted of two 20 minutes interval training workouts. The first segment focuses on the upper body: working biceps, triceps and shoulders. There is one minute of cardio exercise for every two minutes of strength training. Cindy uses a number of traditional strength exercises and drills that are easy to catch on to if you are new to strength training or just a little rusty. The upper body segment requires dumbbells, I used a set of 8lbs. While 8 lbs worked well for most the exercises, I could definitely have used a set of 10-12 lbs for some of the shoulder and bicep work. I would recommend having a range of weights handy depending on your ability.
The 20 minute lower body portion of the Ultra Lean DVD followed a similar sequence working in cardio and strength training. Again, most of the exercises are ones you have likely seen/done in the past, making it easy to catch on. I wish I had heavy weights on hand for the dead-lift intervals because I did not feel challenged. Most of her lower body strength exercises focus on the butt. At the end of the video she burns out your tush with a lot of glute work.
Wednesday Morning I jumped right into another DVD from Cindy’s Series. I went with Ultra Tight to start my day. You can see a trailer above. Hard Body is the first of the two workouts included in Ultra Tight. This was a total body workout that focused on multi-joint functional movements all while keeping your heart rate up with cardio intervals. The Hard Body segment kept my heart rate medium/high for the full 20 minutes. 6-Pack Abs is the second workout in the Ultra Tight DVD. It includes both standing and mat work with one minute of cardio for every two minutes of toning. I liked the fact that the cardio moves worked the core, allowing you to really burn out your middle for the full 20 minutes.
Tip: If you own a kettlebell or a dumbbell 12+ lbs, I recommend having it handy for the swings performed in Hard Body (if you are familiar with kettlebell swings). A 8-10 lb dumbbell was too light for me in that movement. If you are new to weights, an 8lb dumbbell will work fine.
I really enjoyed the Hard Body workout because you are working your upper body, lower body, core and cardiovascular system simultaneously for the full 20 minutes. I also appreciate that Cindy implements cardio into the abdominal routines for the 6-Pack Ab workout. I often find that abdominal workouts get a little slow and relaxed, but that was not the case with this routine. The Ultra Tight cardio moves were a little more advanced than the Ultra Lean DVD, which made it my favorite of the two strength focused DVDs. Overall, I enjoyed this workout and I would definitely continue to make it part of my fitness regimen.
Thursday I woke up sore, tired and groggy so before I began my UFIT series I did a short yoga practice to wake up. The last DVD in the series is called Ultra Burn. This DVD consists of a cardio workout and a workout called Sculpt and Stretch. I sweat my butt off during the cardio. It consisted of athletic moves like jump squats, lunges and kicks. I made a few modifications to increase the intensity; adding weights and by making exercises pylometric. Sculpt and Stretch was an active recovery. It was a mixture of exercises to lengthen muscles and tone. Cindy used a lot of modified yoga postures and added pulses and movements to make the stretches more athletic and dynamic. The stretches were paired with strength exercises to tone and improve balance. I would recommend doing the cardio portion right before the Sculpt and Stretch because your muscles are really warm and it makes for a good recovery sequence.
After several weeks of this workout series you would need to up your weights and add dumbbells to body weight moves to continue to challenge your body. For me, 40 minutes is just a little bit too short. But keep in mind, this does not include a warm up or cool down. I did like how the workout was broken up into two segments. It is great for people with a time pinch who cannot dedicate an hour each day to a fitness routine or for those who are not physically ready for an hour long interval training workout. It also allows you to mix and match workouts, depending on your day or cardiovascular exercise regimen. The series is $40 and includes a meal plan and exercise schedule which unfortunately I do not have access to. I think beginners could start with one 20 minute workout in addition to their running/walking/biking routine and progress to completing 2-3 workouts at a time. If I were advising clients, I would recommend they start with the Ultra Lean, move onto the Ultra Tight and finish with the Ultra Burn series.
I was afraid that the series would not be high enough impact for me, but I experienced muscle soreness from the first DVD on Wednesday and I am still sore today (Thursday). I think this series is effective because of it’s pace. There is not time for rest or too much instruction between exercises. In addition, the exercises are athletic and uncomplicated so you can easily modify them to increase or decrease the intensity level if you need to. This is a great DVD to break out when you are crunched for time as well. It is a relatively flexible series and could meet the needs of a wide range of fitness levels and lifestyles. Since it appeals to a large audience, I could see myself recommending this to my clients as a routine for their off days.
I want to advise you to warm up and cool down. There is no warm up in any of the workouts so please take about five minutes to heat up your body before you begin. I did a short 10 minute yoga flow before beginning since I roll out of bed and workout in the mornings. Below I have posted a good 4.5 minute warm up from Fitness Blender. You can do this prior to any of the UFIT workouts if yoga is not your thing. In addition, you need to be cooling down. Cindy gives you a 1-2 minute stretch and no cool down. Chose an easy exercise that keeps your body moving and brings your heart rate down before you static stretch. Don’t skip stretching, your muscles will pay for it the next day.
Recommended Warm Up:
One of my clients recently asked me what and when she should been eating before our sessions to keep her from feeling exhausted and/or nauseous. So hear I am, singing the praise of carbs carbs and more carbs. You cannot efficiently burn fat and build muscle without adequate carbohydrate intake.
One of my favorite quotes actually came from my NASM text book. I memorized it when studying but find myself using it as a reminder in my own nutrition choices. It goes like this: “Fat burns in a carbohydrate flame”
Basically, maximal fat will not be utilized without enough carbohydrate. Carbohydrates serve as our most vital source of energy for all bodily functions and muscular endurance. This is because our bodies depend on muscle glycogen during exercise. But enough with the scientific blabber, what you need to know is that without sufficient glycogen stores available, you may hit a wall during your workout, burn less fat and build less muscle. As an athlete, you want to save your protein for building muscle, rather than use it for energy.
2-4 hours prior to working out, you want to consume a carbohydrate rich meal with some protein as well. A common carbohydrate to protein ratio is 2:1 when exercising for an hour or less. If you are an endurance athlete you can up your carbohydrates to a 3:1 ratio. If you workout in the mornings, just get something in your system that will cause little distress on your belly and will digest easily. Read this short article highlighting the importance of pre and post workout nutrition from Equinox’s blog.
In order to recover and replenish those glycogen stores after a workout you need to eat at minimum a small snack within 30 minutes of completion. If you are able to consume a full meal within 30 minutes of working out, you can do so with a carbohydrate and protein rich meal.
Now this does not mean you should eat pasta for every meal. Sometimes we forget that fruits and vegetables are also carbohydrates. Also stick to whole grains like quinoa, brown rice or oats.
Here is what I suggest my clients consume before a heart thumping session to avoid early exhaustion:
- Banana or apple with nut butter ( I prefer Raw Unsalted Almond Butter)
- Steel cut oats with half a banana, some blueberries or raisins (get creative and use what you have)
- A hard boiled egg with a piece of fruit
- Whole wheat crackers with hummus (I love Mary’s Gone Crackers)
- Carrots and Hummus
- A bowl of quinoa (Ideas here: I’m dying to try the “bagel bowl”)
- Brown rice cake(s) with avocado (I need more than one, but I have a lot of body to fuel so keep your personal needs in mind)
- Baked Potato with salsa and a sprinkle of black beans (so good and such a great endurance carbohydrate)
- Baked Sweet Potato with a sprinkle of cinnamon and some ghee or coconut oil
Post Workout I usually grab a banana and a handful of nuts or make a protein shake if it is not meal time. If I am running around I also really like Zone’s Perfectly Simple line. You can find them at most large grocers and target too. They are not as pricey as some other brands on the market, and they are gluten free!
Most days I time my workouts to come before a balanced meal. If it’s breakfast time, try an egg and vegetable hash or a bowl of breakfast quinoa with Greek yogurt (which when combined is a complete protein). If you want some egg and vegetable ideas, check out my blog post Green Lunches. When it’s dinner time, have nutrient dense veggies, whole grains and proteins. I am not a big meat eater, so I combine foods to create whole proteins and incorporate eggs into meals. For example, rice and beans when combined create a whole protein and provide you with adequate carbohydrate replenishment! Above is my post workout breakfast from this morning, this is also a great pre-workout meal, especially for those long runs during spring training.
Just keep in mind I am not a nutritionist and everyone has slightly different needs depending on their body, exercise habits and dietary restrictions.